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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Oral Tradition in Ancient Israel
Miller II, Robert D.

Eugene, Ore.: Cascade, 2011 pp. xv + 154. $20.00

Series Information
Biblical Performance Criticism


Description: Providing a comprehensive study of "oral tradition" in Israel, this volume unpacks the nature of oral tradition, the form it would have taken in ancient Israel, and the remains of it in the narrative books of the Hebrew Bible. The author presents cases of oral/written interaction that provide the best ethnographic analogies for ancient Israel and insights from these suggest a model of transmission in oral-written societies valid for ancient Israel. Miller reconstructs what ancient Israelite oral literature would have been and considers criteria for identifying orally derived material in the narrative books of the Old Testament, marking several passages as highly probable oral derivations. Using ethnographic data and ancient Near Eastern examples, he proposes performance settings for this material. The epilogue treats the contentious topic of historicity and shows that orally derived texts are not more historically reliable than other texts in the Bible.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Literature

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Review by Raymond F. Person Jr.
Published 4/15/2012
Citation: Raymond F. Person Jr., review of Robert D. Miller II, Oral Tradition in Ancient Israel, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2012).


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